The Associated Press reports: The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime” of modern history and expressed his sympathy for the victims – a rare acknowledgment by an Arab leader of Jewish suffering during the Nazi genocide.
Abbas’s comments appeared, in part, aimed at reaching out to Israeli public opinion at a time of deep crisis in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The remarks were published by the Palestinian official news agency WAFA hours before the start of Israel’s annual Holocaust commemoration.
The decades-old conflict has been accompanied by mutual mistrust among Israelis and Palestinians. Many Israelis fear that Palestinians are not truly ready to accept a Jewish presence in the Holy Land, and that widespread ignorance or even denial of the Holocaust among Palestinians is an expression of that attitude.
Denials of or attempts to minimise the scale of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed during the second world war, are widespread in the Arab world.
Many Palestinians fear that if they acknowledge the Holocaust they will diminish their own claims based on years of suffering, including their uprooting during Israel’s creation in 1948 and decades under Israeli occupation.
Abbas’s office said he discussed the Holocaust in a meeting with an American rabbi, Marc Schneier, who visited Abbas’s headquarters in Ramallah last week. [Continue reading…]